Warriors’ Game 7 vs. Kings will reveal truth about defending NBA champions

Game 7 will reveal truth about defending-champion Warriors originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SACRAMENTO – After 88 games, truth and lies remain indistinguishable. Signs of revival and hope have been followed by cycles of doubt or, worse, torment. Finally, on Sunday, in Game No. 89, we will see and hear the indisputable truth about these Warriors.

It has to be this way, with a Game 7, on the road. The defending champions have spun a web of despair around the first 88 and what’s left to discern is only sober truth.

Do the Warriors remain a formidable force, capable of summoning on demand a performance for the ages?

Or are they, as their regular season shouted from October into April, a proud bunch caught in the clutch of an identity crisis, vainly relying on deeds of the past to resurface and lift them in the present?

“We’ll be ready for Game 7,” coach Steve Kerr said Friday night, after the Warriors loitered their way to a 118-99 loss to the Sacramento Kings in Game 6 at Chase Center.

“I still have absolute belief in this team that we can go get it done on the road,” Klay Thompson said after Game 6, which clearly was their most favorable chance to win the series. “It will be a tall task, but we are up for it, and I know we will respond.”

This was, mind you, after losing Game 6 despite conditions the Warriors could not have improved upon in their most saccharine fantasies.

“We put ourselves in a situation where we have to be the team that’s playing with desperation, and obviously on the road in a Game 7,” Stephen Curry said after the Game 6 loss. “There’s a belief that we can do that. There’s a belief in every single guy that’s going to be out there on the floor, that we can make the necessary adjustments.”

So, yes, they believe, still. As they should. The Warriors are positive that the elements missing in Game 6 – energy, wisdom and solitary focus, to name three – will emerge in Game 7. Their expressions of certitude appropriate for the script of the most accomplished NBA franchise over the last 20 years. Anything less, why show up?

But the first 88, with a 47-41 record, including 3-3 in the postseason, doesn’t rinse away with words of optimism. And the record offers a resounding rebuttal.

These Warriors are not the beasts of yore, perfectly equipped to destroy any opponent with the temerity to challenge. Teeth were lost when Thompson tore his ACL and when Kevin Durant, after rupturing his Achilles’ tendon, departed.

These Warriors are a little more than 11 months removed from a surprising run to an NBA championship, two years removed from being bounced into the offseason by successive losses in the play-in tournament and three years removed from posting the worst record in the league.

“We’ve been through everything,” Kerr said, referring primarily to 33-and-older veterans Draymond Green, Curry and Thompson. “We’ve won a Game 7 on the road before in the playoffs. We know we can do it.

“But we’ve got to regroup and kind of fill up the cup and get our energy ready for Sunday afternoon.”

The Warriors spent Saturday in their bunker, reviewing video of Game 6 and plotting moves and countermoves for Game 7. And hoping that will be enough to carry them into the Western Conference semifinals.

The Kings have been on the attack from the start, winning the first two games in Sacramento before getting smacked in Game 3 at Chase. Game 4 was in doubt until the final second, with the Warriors prevailing by one point. The teams were separated by three points with 50 seconds remaining in Game 5 before Golden State held on.

Game 6 was a Kings beatdown of shocking proportions. They stomped into the Warriors’ house and took everything they wanted and, ultimately, the victory.

RELATED: Rivers predicts Dubs beat Kings in Game 7, go on to win Finals

The Warriors want no part of Game 6 being the truth about themselves in April 2023. Couldn’t prevent it, so they’re out to expunge it.

“We know what to do,” Curry said, with a tone of defiance. “We have an identity of who we are when we are playing our best basketball. If we can find that, I like our chances.”

That “if” will uncover the truth about these Warriors. They think, after the highs and lows of 88 games, they know. They have in Game 89 at least 48 minutes to submit evidence and offer testimony.

A verdict is hours away and it will leave no doubt. Game 7s never lie.

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